Home > Free Essays > History > World History > Contribution of Qian Xuesen

Contribution of Qian Xuesen Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Feb 2nd, 2022


Qian Xuesen was born in December 1911 at Zhejiang province of China. His family moved to Beijing where he spent his early life. After receiving his secondary education, he was admitted to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he pursued a degree course in mechanical engineering and graduated in 1934. In 1935, he joined Nanchang Air Base for an internship program and later on he was offered a scholarship by Nanchang Air Base to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a masters degree in aeronautical engineering (Chang, 1996). He moved to California Institute of Technology for his doctorate studies and he graduated in 1939. He was employed by both MIT and Caltech as a lecturer. Qian contributed to the exchange between China and the rest of the world in the field of science through development and improvement of the aviation industry.


As an assistant lecturer, he contributed to the world exchange through his interest in rocket experiment. In his experiments, he assisted in conducting seminal research about rocket propulsion and in early 1940s he aided other engineers in founding the jet propulsion laboratory used by NASA. Jet Propulsion technology was a proposal to the US military for the development of missiles in response to the Germany latest V-2 rocket technology (Chang, 1996).

During the Second World War, he served in the US government science advisory board. He helped advice the US defense forces on how to develop and use ballistic-missile during German war (Chang, 1996). After the Second World War, he was holding the position of lieutenant colonel. In Germany, he managed to debrief Nazis scientist hence being permitted to go and analyze Hitler’s V-2 rocket facilities. He also interviewed rocket scientist Werner Braun and Rudolph Hermann (Feigenbaum, 2003). Qian enormously contributed to the Manhattan project that leads to the development of the first atomic bomb. He was later propelled in 1949 to directorship position at Caltech (Chang, 1996). Later in 1949, a proposition to design a space plane as a winged rocket had been presented by him. This innovative idea managed to cause a significant impulse for the development of Dyna-Soar project, which later on affected the USA space shuttle (Michael & Susan, 1993). He was accused of being a communist sympathizer by the FBI and later on he was deported to China; the move was not welcomed by many US scientists.

Due to the accusation, he was charged by the FBI of being a spy and a sympathizer to communism, he refuted the claims and he was put under partial house arrest for a period of 5 years. He was allowed to go back to China in 1955 in exchange of eleven America military airmen captured during the Korean War (Michael & Susan, 1993). When he returned to China from the US, he was appointed director of the Fifth Academy which was under the Ministry of Defense. In the exchange between China and the Soviet Union, he managed to reverse-engineer the Soviet Union R-2 rocket and improvised the German V-2 that was developed by Werner Braun and left by the Soviets (Michael & Susan, 1993). Towards the end of 1958, he constructed China’s Dongfeng ballistic missiles and the Long March space rockets which were launched in 1964. Through Qian worked with the help of the USSR, China managed to make a significant stride in nuclear development and by 1964 a nuclear bomb was developed and tested towards the end of the same year (Xiaobing, 2012).

He wrote a proposal to the Chinese government in 1956 seeking for the establishment of the country aerospace defense industry. His proposal was accepted by the government, and the industry was established by both Chinese and the Soviet Union engineers. He started and managed 57 scientific projects emphasizing on the establishment of nuclear power, computers and semiconductor devices, and missiles. In the aerospace industry, he established a project that resulted in the development of silkworm missile; this was the first Chinese ballistic missile build based on German V-2 rocket design. He modified the same missile to be able to carry a nuclear war head and during the test it managed to hit the intended target 2000 miles away. The development of missile tracking and control telemetry systems, anti-ship missiles and the first Chinese satellite had been established by the silkworm program (Xiaobing, 2007).

The development of atomic energy in China was founded by Qian in 1950s. Through his leadership assisted by Japanese engineers, he managed to help China develop its first heavy water atomic reactor (Xiaobing, 2007). In late 1960s, he brought together a group of nuclear scientist both from China and outside to find a solution to the technical hitch in R&D of both hydrogen and atomic bomb. The achievements lead to the establishment of the first China hydrogen bomb. This came 2 years after the establishment of the atomic bomb.

In the exchange between Qian and the US engineers, China had progressed into building Dongfeng 4 ballistic missile, which placed the first Chinese satellite in space in 1970s. Due to Qian’s works, China had managed to gain the super powers because of its capability to build nuclear power facilities (Jerome, 2008). Spurred by Qian’s knowledge, China had moved from a weak nation into a super power country. He assisted in the establishment of the department of Mechanics at the China University of Science and Technology. The department provided intellects required for the development of the country economy, defense and education (Kenneth E. DeGraffenreid, congress (us) Washington dc, Christopher Cox, 1999). He retired in 1991 and in 1992 China managed to launch the manned space program: the engineers used Qian’s research as the basic foundation of Long March rocket that launched Shenzhou V. This was the first Chinese manned space mission (Feigenbaum, 2003).

In China, Qian advocated for the scientific investigation into the Chinese traditional medicine. He aimed at developing interdisciplinary foundations which were applicable in a various fields, such as engineering, biology and medicine (Books, LLC, & General Books LLC, 2012). He also established Chinese school of science complexity, organized scientific seminars across the country and trained those who succeed in advancing science.


In conclusion, it is fair to say that Qian played a crucial role in transformation of ideas in the aviation industry in both the United States and China. He is regarded by the Chinese as the father of the rocket science. As a result of his outstanding contribution, he manages to receive several awards and recognition. In 1979, he was awarded a distinguished Alumni Award by California Institute of Technology; in 2008, due to his contribution in the aviation industry, by the Aviation Week and Space Technology he was named as the Person of the Year (Kenneth E. DeGraffenreid, congress (us) Washington dc, Christopher Cox, 1999).


Books, LLC, & General Books LLC, 2012, Chinese Expatriates in the United States: Qian Xuesen, Eddy Zheng, Yuja Wang, Y. L. Chin, Li Shu-Hua, Sho-Chieh Tsiang, Vivian Wu, Hsien Wu, General Books LLC, Harvard.

Chang,I, 1996, Thread Of The Silkworm, Basic Books, Chicago.

DeGraffenreid, K, congress (us) Washington dc, Christopher Cox, 1999, U. S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China, DIANE Publishing, New York

Feigenbaum, E, 2003, China’s Techno-Warriors: National Security and Strategic Competition from the Nuclear to the Information Age, Stanford University Press, Stanford

Jerome, C, 2008, ‘Hold Your Fire’, Aviation Week and Space Technology, Vol. 168, no. 1, p. 8.

Michael Y. M, Susan H. M, 1993, China in the Era of Deng Xiaoping: A Decade of Reform, M.E. Sharpe, Beijing

Xiaobing Li, 2007, a History of the Modern Chinese Army, University Press of Kentucky, Richmond.

Xiaobing Li, 2012, China at War, ABC-CLIO, Richmond.

This essay on Contribution of Qian Xuesen was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2022, February 2). Contribution of Qian Xuesen. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contribution-of-qian-xuesen/


IvyPanda. (2022, February 2). Contribution of Qian Xuesen. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/contribution-of-qian-xuesen/

Work Cited

"Contribution of Qian Xuesen." IvyPanda, 2 Feb. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/contribution-of-qian-xuesen/.

1. IvyPanda. "Contribution of Qian Xuesen." February 2, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contribution-of-qian-xuesen/.


IvyPanda. "Contribution of Qian Xuesen." February 2, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contribution-of-qian-xuesen/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Contribution of Qian Xuesen." February 2, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contribution-of-qian-xuesen/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Contribution of Qian Xuesen'. 2 February.

Powered by CiteTotal, the best referencing maker
More related papers